What would you do if you could build a table tennis club from scratch? Let’s say you had unlimited resources to create table tennis heaven in your home town. It’s not hard to imagine what the building and tables would look like. You could hire great coaches, and sell all the best equipment at a well stocked pro shop. Your facility could be a major venue for tournaments. Leagues could be formed. Everyone would love to play at this perfect table tennis center.
Or….you could try something different. Sure, get the building and tables. Provide the essentials to create a facility players would look forward to playing at. I’ve recently been serving as an unofficial advisor to the new Atlanta Table Tennis Center. https://www.attcga.com/ They didn’t ask for my advise. I just couldn’t help but give it anyway. Initially, I thought they should do all the normal things that players in the U.S. are used to. Run some tournaments, leagues, and coaching clinics. All of those things would be great, but it occurred to me that a brand new club had the chance to do things better right from the start. There’s no reason to become an exact copy of every other club. There’s a case to be made for starting off with a team league.
One of the downsides of table tennis is that it can sometimes be a lonely sport. I fully experienced this on my recent trip to a tournament in Florida. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have a coach or teammates. Newcomers to a club often feel lost as they try to figure out where they fit in among a group of competitive players. Contrast that to team tournaments. They are almost always more fun. Players have the support of their teammates. It’s a social event where memories are made, and someone actually cares about how other players are faring. There are table tennis teams at some schools. There are occasional team tournaments, but there are far too many situations where players are flying solo.
Doubles could be included, but wouldn’t have to be. The idea is to bring some of the positives of team sports to what has almost completely become a individual sport, at least in the United States. Putting together a team league is not easy. It’s always easier to get one person to commit to something, as opposed to five. It’s important to make the teams competitive. Nobody wins when beginners have to play advanced players. So, it will take some real organizational skills to create a good team league. There are many possible pitfalls. But for anyone who’s ever played on a table tennis team, they’ll know it’s well worth all the problems that come with it. Bringing team play to table tennis could be great, but it will take a team effort.